United Welsh Group is an award-winning housing association based in South Wales providing a range of accommodation including general needs, supported housing and Extra Care.
With almost 6,000 properties, the organisation not only builds homes and creates communities but is passionate about helping to transform lives. Part of the way they do this is by developing strong relationships with health and the third sector to deliver a range of services including promoting wellbeing and social prescribing.
Connect Project Making a difference
A two-year project funded by Comic Relief, Connect is designed to help tenants build more capacity for individual purpose, promote meaningful relationships and encourage them to become active in their communities to help reduce feelings of isolation.
A dedicated facilitator, Andrea Withers, has been employed to work with tenants, particularly those living in older persons’ accommodation to explore their strengths and interests and see what activities would make them feel better connected to the world around them and enrich their self-purpose.
“Andrea has been fantastic at making connections in the communities and helping to facilitate bespoke activities that suit the interests of the people living in our schemes as well as the areas where they live. This has meant that after an initial helping hand many of the groups are now continuing by themselves which is brilliant to see.”
As a result of the Connect project some fantastic relationships have been developed between United Welsh schemes and local schools and toddler groups including:
- An intergenerational choir which meets on a weekly basis and is now regularly performing concerts! Click here for a link to one of their latest performances.
- Sing and dance sessions with a toddler group and people living in one of United Welsh’s over 50 schemes.
- A Digital Heroes scheme where pupils from a local primary school are helping to make silver surfers out of the tenants at another 50+ scheme.
- Arts and crafts activities at a lot of different venues.
- Moving with the Generations which has benefitted from a separate grant from Age Cymru to establish art therapy and dance sessions for the tenants living in the Extra Care schemes and local nursery groups.
Jan Rees who attends the intergenerational choir said, “I lived alone because I lost my husband, so I decided to move to sheltered accommodation and it is so lovely to be a part of something.”
“Coming here for choir is extra-special and it gets us out. The kids seem to love it and they’re so lovely with the residents. You don’t have to be a good singer for the choir; it’s the joining in that counts and we absolutely love it. We try to persuade everyone to join in!”
With evidence highlighting life expectancy is reduced by two to five times for people who are isolated and that risks of isolation increase significantly with age, the Connect project is a valuable resource or as one United Welsh tenant says, “It’s the best part of the week!”.